Tags: veterans | military | hearing | protection | healthcare

America's Warfighters Deserve the Best Hearing Protection

America's Warfighters Deserve the Best Hearing Protection
(Igor Kovalchuk/Dreamstime.com)

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Wednesday, 25 September 2019 04:16 PM Current | Bio | Archive

Since leaving the United States’ Army, including service in the second Iraq War, I have felt a great deal of appreciation from my fellow Americans. Like all veterans, this is something I am extremely grateful for.

While an overwhelming majority of people in this country provide aid and support to our troops and veterans, there is always more we can be doing to help the men and women who have served, or are currently serving, in the Armed Forces.

Thankfully in recent decades, there has been an increased focus on the mental health of active service members and veterans, and their coping with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). The government, healthcare providers, veterans service organizations (VSOs), and private citizens have also made important commitments to the physical care and moral support for wounded warriors.

However, there is one aspect of care for our troops and veterans which requires more attention — from both our political and military leaders — and that is more attention to hearing protection.

Hearing loss and tinnitus are currently the leading service-connected disability claims being made by veterans, with three-in-five veterans returning from military service suffering from either one or both of these ailments.

Tinnitus is a health condition that results in ringing in the ears.

Depending on how severe the condition is in the patient, it can be a serious matter with symptoms including anxiety, depression, and isolating one’ self from social interactions. For troops and veterans, it can make it harder to overcome PTSD and the typical stresses associated with transitioning from military to civilian life.

Looking at the numbers of veterans dealing with hearing issues is staggering. In 2018, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) reported that 1,228,936 American vets are suffering from hearing loss and 1,971,201 are suffering from tinnitus. Shockingly, this is an increase from the previous year.

Cumulatively, the VA spends about $6 billion dollars a year helping veterans cope with their hearing loss.

Guns, cannons, and explosions are extremely loud, so it is no surprise that military service members are coping with hearing issues. But, regrettably, the hearing protection provided by the Armed Forces to our troops is insufficient to get the job done.

In fact, both the government and veterans are taking legal action against the current supplier of hearing conservation devices for our troops because of blatant ineffectiveness and defects associated with their products. Worse, due to concerns about comfort and communication, many of those troops engaged in combat forgo their hearing protection in order to have better battlefield awareness — leaving them vulnerable to overwhelming levels of noise.

Clearly, something needs to be done at the highest levels of our government and military to address the inadequate hearing protection provided to our troops. Combat is risky enough; our troops shouldn’t need to risk their hearing to operate effectively on the battlefield.

However, it is heartening that the U.S. Marine Corps are looking at developing improved hearing protection. Hopefully, this will lead to further advances.

Issues with the military’s hearing protection isn’t a problem that sprung up out of nowhere.

In fact, several years ago, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) made recommendations to the Pentagon to improve how they protect the hearing of our troops. And last year, Congress asked for research on potential new hearing protection options. The Committee on Armed Services responded with suitable research, and now it’s time for our government to follow through and provide the best protection to the warfighter.

Our Congress, the White House and the Department of Defense need to work together to address the problem of hearing losses for our troops and veterans. These brave Americans are willing to sacrifice their lives for our freedoms. We owe it to them to ensure their dedication to our safety equals our commitment to their wellbeing.

Christopher Neiweem is the Founder of Neiweem Group, an Iraq War Veteran, and Political Strategist. He has testified in both the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate as an expert witness numerous times in front many congressional committees. These topics range from defense, veterans, commerce, education, and military personnel. He regularly appears on Fox News Channel and other news shows as a guest commentator and has worked on several political campaigns. To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.

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ChristopherNeiweem
Since leaving the United States’ Army, including service in the second Iraq War, I have felt a great deal of appreciation from my fellow Americans. Like all veterans, this is something I am extremely grateful for.
veterans, military, hearing, protection, healthcare
714
2019-16-25
Wednesday, 25 September 2019 04:16 PM
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